Our featured member in June has been an IT Geek for as long as he can remember. He “went nuts” (his words) over a TRS-80 computer in middle school, diving into BASIC programming. His dad bought him a Commodore 64 to use at home and the rest is history. Derrick went on to teach himself Assembly, C, graphic design, and anything and everything computer related that he could find.
While many of us navigate twists and turns on the road to our eventual careers, Derrick has been on a straight trajectory. When asked why he started his own business, his response was quick and clear, “entrepreneurial desire”. The dot.com boom was happening all around, but not in Washington county, where he lived at the time. He tried IT jobs, such as working in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail newspaper’s IT department, but they just weren’t fulfilling his dream. Derrick recalled riding his bicycle through town, looking at buildings and thinking, “I would love to have a computer graphic company in one of those buildings.” He was 14.
“No one else was doing it, so I did”
Early on, Derrick noticed there were those very good at technical aspects of website coding and those good at design. “It takes both”, he said. “No one else was doing it, so I did.” In 2001 Derrick founded Axis 80 Interactive as that company that would merge design and technology. From the company website, “Axis 80 Interactive is a full-service web development agency serving corporate clients in a variety of industries. We create great-looking, effective web sites that help our clients to build brands, engage customers, expand to international markets, inform audiences, reduce operating costs, generate leads, and develop revenue streams. We take the time to understand our clients’ goals, and then develop interactive solutions to meet or exceed them. In other words, the sites we build are not only visually beautiful, but are also built to achieve specific business objectives.”
Curious about the company name? The word ‘axis’ (a straight line about which a body rotates; a main line of direction, motion, growth, or extension; a point or continuum on which something centers – from Merriam-Webster.com) came from the idea of alignment and centering. ’80’ is from port 80, used by HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol), the protocol websites and web browsers use to communicate with each other. ‘Interactive’ speaks to actionable, business focused design.
Axis 80 Interactive targets mid-size companies with 20 to 100 employees, preferably with a dedicated Marketing Director. Axis 80 Interactive clients, which number in the fifties these days, come mostly from word-of-mouth recommendations. Like most successful business relationships, working with Axis 80 Interactive starts with a conversation to confirm there is a fit. Derrick handles all these conversations personally. In fact, Axis 80 Interactive currently has only one employee, its founder. Photographers, graphic designers, programmers, and others are contracted as needed to meet business demands. “That approach provides the flexibility I need to ramp up (or down) staff as needed to fit current demand.”, explained Derrick.
Speaking with someone who had run a successful business for over 12 years, I couldn’t resist asking what he had learned along the way. Derrick’s number one lesson? How to manage cash flow (and the importance of doing so). And, yes, to those of you planning to come to Derrick’s Featured Member Breakfast June 7, he promises to speak about this important lesson :).
“SO much better than working at home alone.”
Derrick joined Cowork Frederick in August 2012, ahead of our grand opening and was among those who came out for the event. His girlfriend had read about Cowork Frederick and sent him an email. Derrick checked out our website, then called, spoke to founder Glen Ferguson and, learning a promotion was about to end the next day, signed up over other phone, sight unseen. He’s been a full-time member ever since, signing up for a dedicated desk shortly after our Focus Room opened. Derrick now works side-by-side with a full-time sub-contractor, Emory, on a daily basis.
What does Derrick like about coworking? “It’s so much better than working at home alone. I’ve learned a ton from talking to others.” He also noted the separation between work and personal time as being important.
When he’s not busy with Axis 80 Interactive business, Derrick can be found listening to or even DJ’ing electronic music. He also runs “Future Sound“, a monthly event at Café Nola in downtown Frederick. I see a Cowork Frederick member field trip in the future!